Kenya: 2 Dead, 9 Hospitalised in Suspected Anthrax Outbreak

Two people have died in Meru from suspected anthrax outbreak that has left nine other fighting for their lives.

A statement issued by the Meru County government on Wednesday said the nine are receiving treatment at the Muthara Level IV Hospital.

The patients were admitted with swellings that turned into wounds. Doctors said patients with the swellings on their necks also had difficulty breathing.

"Two patients died due to the infection and samples have been sent to Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) in Nairobi for confirmatory tests," said Meru County's Director of Communication Purity Nkirote.

The patients are said to have told doctors they consumed the carcass of a cow that died from an unidentified disease at Muthara. The infected people also blamed the illness on insect bites.

Meru County Health Chief Officer Kanana Kimonye said investigations are underway to confirm the strange disease.

"We have been getting some cases from Tigania East and our public health officers are on the ground to establish whether it is an insect bite or something else. When we have the correct information, we will inform the public on how to prevent the infection," Dr Kimonye said.

The county's Public Health Director Mutabari Inanga said they had received reports of the disease outbreak in Muthara and Karama at the onset of the Easter holiday.

"We cannot say it is an insect bite or anthrax because it has mainly affected children and a few women. No men are affected. If we say it is anthrax, why are men not affected yet they slaughter animals?"

"We are now looking into insect bites and are engaging entomologists to assist us in identifying the insect that may be causing the problem. Officers are at the affected homes and will find out if there are others unreported cases," Dr Inanga said.

Doctors have urged locals to watch out for signs and symptoms, including face inflammation, breathing problems and unexplained wounds.

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